Claiming the New 15 or 30 Hours of Free Childcare: Explained by the My Ohana Team

The rollout of free childcare hours has made waves in the early education and childcare sector, increasing demand for nursery places across the UK!

Published on June 13, 2024

And leaving parents with a ton of questions about what they are eligible for and how to apply.

In short, and in the simplest terms possible, as of 2024 families who are eligible can apply for funded childcare hours, for children over the age of 9 months and under the age of 3. The new initiative is being rolled out gradually with the eligibility criteria expanding to encompass more children at different stages.

As of April 2024, the first wave of funded hours grants 15 hours of childcare per week to 2-year olds. And that’s just the start of what parents and carers can apply for.

Who is eligible for free childcare hours?

Free childcare hours are being made more accessible than ever before, with the number of eligible families expanding exponentially under the new initiative.

The aim is to make it easier for parents to go back to work, by granting families from all walks of life access to the childcare hours – provided they meet a few criteria checks. At the time of writing in May 2024, these include:

·        You must earn at least £8,670 a year and less than £100,000 a year

·        If you’re in a couple, you both need to be working

·        Your child must fall into the eligible area group at the time of applying. For example, in April 2024 children had to be at least 2 years old in order to access the 15 hours of funded childcare per week. By September 2024, this will be rolled down to children aged 9 months and older to make the scheme more accessible.

It is also worth noting that funded hours can be applied for on top of tax-free childcare and Universal Credit for childcare but cannot be added to an existing scheme of childcare hours funded by the government.

How many free childcare hours am I entitled to?

At the time of writing in May 2024, those with children aged over 2 years with parents who are working, can apply for 15 hours of funded childcare per week.

So, where does the 30 hour promise come in?

The 30 hours of funded childcare is accessible to those with children aged at least 3 years and under 5 years. This will be made available to all those with children under the age of 5 years by September 2025.

How to apply for 15 hours of free childcare in England

In order to apply for funded childcare hours, you need to be looking at the process before the start of the term in which you want your child to enrol at nursery.

It is important to note that when you apply for the nursery, only certain nurseries will accept those using the funding initiative, and those that do will only have a certain number of places open for children accessing funded hours. So you need to get your application in early and secure your child’s spot as soon as you can.

What’s more, in order to access the funding for your child’s nursery place from the government, the nursery you apply for will need a unique code that’s linked to your account. Without this code, you cannot access funded hours of childcare, so it’s critical that you apply online and get this code to give to your childcare provider.

To receive your unique code, head to the government website where you will be asked to confirm your eligibility. The details you provide will need to be updated and reconfirmed every three months to continue receiving childcare, in line with each new term. 

How to apply for 30 hours of free childcare in England?

The process for applying for 30 hours of funded childcare is the same as for 15 hours.

Note that you must apply the term before you wish to start applying the funding. You cannot apply for funding for a term that has already started.

Does my chosen nursery accept the government funding?

This will vary from nursery to nursery – however, our advice is to ask the question as soon as you find a nursery that you are interested in engaging with and sending your child to.

Here at My Ohana, we offer limited funded childcare places each term, and operate on a first come first serve basis. If you are interested in sending your child to our nursery then we urge you to get in touch with us sooner rather than later, outlining your position regarding funded childcare hours and financing your childcare early in the process.

For more advice like this, get in touch with our nursery staff directly.


We’ve been shortlisted for ‘Nursery Group Under 10 Settings’ in the National Day Nursery Awards 2022

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